Wednesday, November 07, 2001

Environmental Discourses p.1-20.

I agree with Harre who argues that language cannot be separated from culture, history, or the world, for that matter. I am of the belief that many things influence linguistics and that language goes beyond the expression of a word or sentence to encompass meanings, stereotypes, connotations or preconceptions. I am, however, a little confused over the use and definition of "greenspeak." Is it considered another language? Does it borrow from other parts of the English language to convey different meanings? Are the words and sentences speak to people on different levels? I can appreciate that greenspeak has several connotations some of which are mentioned by Harre, including Greenpeace, local recycling depots and the United Nations Earth Summit. However, I am not sure how this will all be incorporated into linguisitics. I feel that these ideas and social issues represent so much more than just one field. Perhaps I am not understanding what Harre is arguing about discourse. I also agree with Harre who states that language is a significant psychological tool but I disagree that It is the dominant or even most important part of "human meaning-making." I know that language is an incredibly important part of meanings that we assign things but I also think that images, feelings, reactions of other people and even t.v. are important tools in forming meanings. Harre even acknowledges that the wider context of language must be studied if we are to fully appreciate its impact. Discourse is the broader arena he is referring to. One thing that I had not realized was the extent to which different meanings permeate our concept of the garden. Dualisms and dichotomies abound and it is very interesting to see how two seemingly opposite terms can come together when speaking of the garden. I really enjoyed Dr. Brockmeier's lectures and they helped to clarify more of the readings. It will be interesting to find out more about greenspeak in the next lecture.

Sunday, November 04, 2001

Garden Reflective-Toronto Island

The first thing I notice as we step off the ferry is how much more closely knit this community feels. There are fewer people, less hustle and more of a neighborhood atmosphere. As we start to walk around, I am impressed with the rustic look to the houses and enjoy the eclectic art in front of the homes. I am particularly taken with the log fences. It is so refreshing to see homes that are all unique...not cookie cutter homes of the typical big city suburb. Orange, turquoise, purple, green and red are just a few of the colors of the houses. One cottage that we wandered across resembled a gingerbread house, complete with red trim and clapboard shutters. This spurred on a wave of comments regarding the nursery rhyme, Hansel and Gretel. the trees are everywhere and their colorful leaves thickly cover the streets. The paths are so quiet. Nobody seems to be out today except for us. I enjoy the fact that there are no cars around. I don't miss the sound of the streetcar or the noise of honking horns. Ivan has just pointed out that there are street signs posted on the corners of these quaint streets. I find it charming. This neighborhood reminds me of one that I might find in a book. I feel far removed from Toronto until someone points out the CN tower looming on the skyline. I notice that we are walking at a slower pace than if we were in the city. We are actually taking the time to observe, talk to each other, explore and enjoy. I am having a great time.

Further on, we observe pictures tacked onto trees with a historical blurb. Not the typical information plaques that you find at Toronto's historical sites but more homemade. We have also come across little green laminated tags with Rogue Ware Island 2001 printed on the one side and simple observations printed on the other. One tag attached to the railing along the boardwalk read: "I threw an apple core into the water thus changing the landscape of the environment forever." The boardwalk is beautiful and lined with trees on the right-hand side. Jason tells us that the breaks in the concrete walls are where homes were once located. Now these lots are taken over by trees, brush and grass. I like the way it looks---like an overgrown garden. It reminds me of our first blog assignment to write about the state of the garden if humans were not present to tend them. We discover beavers live on this island and see the infamous Cherry Lane(?) place. It feels damp here. Mosses grow all over the place, giving everything a carpeted feel. Slowly we make our way towards a cozy cafe. When we arrive, most of our class is already there, enjoying a bowl of soup or a sandwich. Ivan discovers a piano and begins to play an old Beatles song. The murmur of the conversation, the warmth of the cafe and the soft sound of the piano make for a very inviting atmosphere. After lunch, we wander down to the recreational facilities and come across two beautiful horses, enjoying their freedom. They let us approach and pet them. Close by, our group decides a crooked tree is a perfect place to climb. We opt to head for the giant maze and everyone manages to make their way through it, without hitting too many dead ends. Later, I snap pictures from a pier that juts way out into Lake Ontario. I am impressed by its tranquility and color. In the distance, Zoe and I see a sailboat, thus causing us to imagine ourselves on it, floating to some unknown destination.

On our way back to the cafe, we come across the animals in the petting zoo. Miniature horses, geese, ducks, donkeys, goats and swans look unimpressed as we snap their pictures and pet them. In the middle of this farm is a giant wooden chair. We managed to cram five people onto it. It looks oddly out of place in the middle of this environment--like we are miniature people in the middle of a giant's yard. On the ferry back to downtown Toronto, people talk animatedly in groups. Upon reflection, I can honestly say that Toronto Island is not what I expected. I was expecting a more commercial site, designed for tourists but was pleased to discover a less developed area of Toronto. I hope it remains this way.